To recap, the EMSA was looking into certain maritime schools' compliance with EU training standards - a negative finding might have affected the employment status of thousands of Filipino sailors on EU ships, with a possible ripple effect into other areas if Filipino seamen were seen to be less qualified as a result of losing EU certification.
Click the photo above to go to the Safety4Sea story; I'll only say here that apparently the EMSA representatives didn't feel that they'd found a smoking gun, and it looks like the crisis will be dealt with without the wholesale loss of jobs on EU ships for Filipino seamen. I think that's good news; I've worked with Filipino seamen, and my impression has been positive. I didn't want to see the kind of men I'd known, indiscriminately tarred with what looked like a failure in one Philippine educational institution.
Barista Uno at the Marine Cafe Blog "called" this shot a month ago, and he also interviewed the EMSA representatives during their visit. Put his blog on your list: http://marine-cafe.com/mcblog/?p=5367#more-5367 as it's well worth a visit occasionally to keep up with the scene in the Philippines and the maritime world in general!
Now, here's a story that intersects the manning issue from another direction. . .
Gearbulk, the Norwegian shipper, is laying off all European maritime staff and replacing them with Asian crews:
Gearbulk Chairman and CEO Kristian Jebsen said:
"This decision has not been made easily and it is highly regrettable that there are consequences for many of our seafarers; however we aim to give them our best support when searching for new job opportunities."
"The acceleration comes as part of a major review of the company’s structure to ensure that Gearbulk continues to be a leader in the unitised cargo transportation markets whilst building a platform for new opportunities and sustainable future growth."
"An extensive selection and training program is being put in place together with our manning partners and we will ensure that the new crew gets the best possible introduction to Gearbulk. This accelerated crewing transition will contribute in our effort to ensure that we are fit for purpose and have a sustainable future."
Obviously Gearbulk has confidence in the mariners they'll be hiring in place of their European crews. But if you're an European seaman just about to lose your job at Gearbulk, this isn't good news!
We keep hearing about the worldwide shortage of qualified mariners. Does that mean that the laid off Gearbulk sailors will readily find other jobs? Is this a zero-sum game - if Asian seamen win, Europeans lose?
As an American seaman, I remember how jobs on American ships dried up in the late '70s. I coped, and prospered - but my career would certainly have been different (though not necessarily better) if I'd been able to continue to work in tankers, where I started.
I hope Gearbulk's "best support when searching for new job opportunities" for its laid off crews will bear fruit. We got no help when I was laid off, and it was a very stressful period in my life. On the other hand, it led me to return to school, where I met my future wife. So it's hard to regard that as a poor result!
How do you regard this issue? Are you positively or negatively impacted by these developments? Please comment below and let us know!